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Who Is a Victim of Communism?

Gender and Public Memory in the Sighet Museum, Romania

Alina Haliliuc

The Memorial Museum of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is the main museum of communism in Romania. This article a ends to this museum's politics of representing gender and argues that its exhibits reify resistance to and victimization by the communist regime as masculine. The museum marginalizes women, in general, and renders unmemorable women's lives under Nicolae Ceauşescu's pronatalist regime, in particular. The absence is significant because Romania is the only country in the former communist bloc where women experienced unique forms of systematic political victimization under Ceauşescu's nationalist-socialist politics of forced birth. This article illustrates how the museum's investment in an anti-communist discourse creates a gendered representation of political action under the communist regime.

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Krassimira Daskalova

Mihaela Miroiu argues that there was/is ‘a deep incompatibility between feminism and communism’ and that the proclaimed communist measures of gender equality were not feminist in intention and meaning. She insists also that one should differentiate between feminism as an ideal and feminism as ideology. Miroiu further claims that, even if there were some individual feminist gestures under ‘communism’, they didn’t have political consequences.

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Social security and care after socialism

Reconfigurations of public and private

Rosie Read and Tatjana Thelen

State frameworks for welfare and social security have been subject to processes of privatization, decentralization, and neoliberal reform in many parts of the world. This article explores how these developments might be theorized using anthropological understandings of social security in combination with feminist perspectives on care. In its application to post-1989 socioeconomic transformation in the former socialist region, this perspective overcomes the conceptual inadequacies of the "state withdrawal" model. It also illuminates the nuanced ways in which public and private (as spaces, subjectivities, institutions, moralities, and practices) re-emerge and change in the socialist era as well as today, continually shaping the trajectories and outcomes of reforms to care and social security.

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The Map and the Territory

The Seventh International Road Congress, Germany 1934

Kristina Skåden

In transnational history of traffic, transport, and mobility, historians have been arguing for studying organizations as “transnational system builders” in the establishment and modification of transnational infrastructure. Emphasis has been placed on examining human actors. Here, I argue that the role of material objects, the nonhuman actors, should also be taken into account by investigating how a particular map matters. The major research issue is, therefore: How can we understand and analyze how the Nazi regime put the map Deutschlandkarte displayed at the exhibition Die Strasse (Munich, 1934) into play? In addition, how did the map figure in transnational system building during and after the seventh International Road Congress arranged by the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses? Insights from transnational history in the fields of traffic, transport, and mobility as well as material cultural studies, critical mapping, and actor-network theory inform this article.

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Tenuous Belonging

Citizenship and Democracy in Mozambique

Jason Sumich

This article examines changing ideas of who constitutes a 'deserving' and 'full' citizen in Mozambique, from independence in 1975 to the present. I argue that the leadership of the ruling Frelimo Party attempted to occupy a position above society where it could determine the practices and behaviors that made one a loyal citizen and, conversely, those that made one an 'alien' or enemy. The adoption of liberal democracy in 1990 undermined the party's right to define what a 'true' or 'good' Mozambican is, but not the underlying structural grammar. Thus, the meaning of citizenship is increasingly a floating signifier. To be designated an 'outsider' is to be an enemy, but it is no longer clear who has the power to define who is a 'true' Mozambican and who is not.

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Georgeta Nazarska

The article explores the history of the Bulgarian Association of University Women (BAUW) (1924-1950) within the broader framework of two historical periods in Bulgarian history (before and after the political change in September 1944) and during a democratic, an authoritarian, and a totalitarian regime. The article outlines the internal and external prerequisites for the emergence of the BAUW, its profile as a feminist organisation in Bulgaria, and its position in the context of other professional feminist organisations with a social profile after the First World War. It discusses some particularities in the ideology and the organisational structure of the BAUW, and details the process of the organisation's destruction.

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Irina Gigova

This article considers the Club of Bulgarian Women Writers as a case study on the interrupted feminisation of twentieth-century Bulgarian belles-lettres and culture. It argues that the modernisation project of Bulgarian intellectuals in the interwar years led to an environment propitious for the emergence of a cohort of women literati who furthered women's emancipation, and generated an original and popular textual tradition. The Club, which existed between 1930 and 1949, was emblematic of the wide acceptance of women intellectuals in patriarchal monarchical Bulgaria, and their subsequent marginalisation in the post-war socialist republic. Having declared gender equality fulfilled, the communist regime considered literary interest in womanhood or the individual hostile to its social and political agenda. Interwar women intellectuals, whose very worldview demanded an unrestrained confluence of personal, female and intellectual identities, lost their social importance. Likewise, the Club and its members were excised from cultural and public memory until the 1990s.

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Socialist Secularism

Religion, Modernity, and Muslim Women's Emancipation in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1945–1991

Pamela Ballinger and Kristen Ghodsee

This article uses the examples of socialist Bulgaria and Yugoslavia to propose some new directions for rethinking scholarly understandings of “secularism” and the ways in which socialist secularizing projects were intricately intertwined with questions of gender equality. Current scholarly debates on the genealogy of secularism root its origins in the Catholic/Protestant West, and systematically ignore cases from the former communist world. This article takes two cases of Balkan states to explore the theoretical contours of what we call “socialist secularism.” Although Bulgaria and Yugoslavia’s experiences of socialist secularism differed in the degree of their coerciveness, this article examines the similarities in the conceptualization of the secularizing imperative and the rhetoric used to justify it, specifically the rhetoric of communist modernism and women’s liberation from religious backwardness.

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Secret Years

Hungarian Lesbian Herstory, 1950s–2000s

Anna Borgos

The article explores the personal narratives of middle-aged and elderly Hungarian lesbian women based on oral history interviews. The stories open a window into the Kádár era from a special perspective, allowing us to get a glimpse into the women's self-recognition and coming out process; their different (sexual, professional or maternal) identities, relationships, informal social scenes, and communities; their thinking about gender roles, as well as the available representations of lesbians over the decades. The women also discuss the freedom and greater visibility—as complex as it was—that came after the democratic transition. The article contributes more detailed knowledge about the situation of LGBT people in the region during the state socialist period and around the 1989 regime change.

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The Baikal-Amur Mainline

Memories and Emotions of a Socialist Construction Project

Olga Povoroznyuk

The Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM), a railroad in East Siberia and the Russian Far East, became the last large Soviet industrial project. Its construction in the 1970s and 1980s attracted migrants from across the USSR, who formed the bamovtsy, or group of BAM builders. They share a history of working and living along the BAM and constitute the majority population in the region. The article argues that emotionally charged social memory of the BAM construction plays the central role in reproducing and reinforcing the bamovtsy identity in the post-Soviet period. Drawing on in-depth interviews and focus groups, the article examines the dynamics of both individual and collective remembering of the socialist BAM. It forms a vibrant discursive and emotional field, in which memories and identities are reconstructed, relived, and contested. Commemorative ceremonies such as the fortieth anniversary of the BAM serve as forums of public remembering and arenas for the politics of emotions.